United Methodists among dead in Congo flooding

Nine people have died and thousands of homes and buildings have been destroyed, including five United Methodist schools, two local churches and pastoral homes, after heavy rains and flooding in the Uvira District of Kivu.

Among the dead are a United Methodist woman from Sange United Methodist Church and two children from Kasenga United Methodist Church, said the Rev. Dumas Balaganire, Uvira district superintendent, who organized a local committee to identify the houses destroyed and number of deaths.

HOW TO HELP

To make a donation to the The United Methodist Committee on Relief's International Disaster Response, use Advance #982450.

A 52-year-old widow, who leaves behind 11 children, also died, along with four members of the same family from the Songo neighborhood.

Dikete Yale, coordinator of United Methodist schools in Kivu, said four primary schools (Senga, Suki, Walo and De La Montagne) and a secondary school (De La Montagne) were destroyed by flooding. He said school officials are forced to look for houses to rent for the children to finish the school year.

He sent a cry of alarm for “any person of good will to help these schools so that these children can end the school year in goodness.”

The Rev. Dumas Balaganire (left in blue), district superintendent of the Uvira District, surveys damage done to the United Methodist Women Guest House in Uvira after heavy rains and flooding. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UMNS.

 

Two United Methodist churches in Kasenga and Kiliba also were destroyed. Balaganire said he is concerned about where church members will worship. The Kasenga church counts 345 faithful and Kiliba has an average of 285 people in attendance each Sunday.

Balaganire said the church has begun to guide some victims to neighbouring churches and schools, but the most urgent needs at the moment are to find tarpaulins, sheets, food and medicine for those displaced by the flooding.

He said there are families who are spending the night under mango trees and others sheltering in nearby churches.

“(Similar) floods took place in 1952 and had caused some material damage and loss of life. Today, 65 years after, we have just recorded further damage and loss of life,” said Kanvimvira District Chief Makomango Munyaga.

The pastoral houses at New Jerusalem and Kasenga United Methodist churches also were destroyed, and the Omba Unda Guest House of United Methodist Women in Uvira was damaged by the flooding, said Mother Rose Nabintu, manager of the guesthouse.

“I can no longer do my small businesses between Uvira and Burundi because of these floods because the road is cut between the two countries at the border,” she said.

Kingombe Kazamwali, lay chief of the Uvira District, said that in addition to the deaths and material damage, there are many wounded.  

“Among the wounded we have the lay head of the Makobola (United Methodist) Church with all his family who are interned at the Makobola hospital, and two Methodist women from Kasenga who are attending the care at Uvira Methodist Hospital.”

East Congo Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda has been sympathetic to all the victims of this calamity and has appealed to people of good will to assist the survivors.

Kituka Lolonga is a communicator in the Kivu Conference. News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected] To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests. 

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Mission and Ministry
The Rev. John Makaniko (left) gathers in fellowship with teenage members from Hatfield United Methodist Church circuit in Harare, Zimbabwe. Makaniko said young people are not immune to the stress and anxiety of COVID-19. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UM News.

Pastors reveal emotional toll of COVID-19

Church leaders in Zimbabwe help counsel traumatized families, while also dealing with their own fears and anxiety amid pandemic.
Mission and Ministry
Rachel Barwe issues textbooks to students in the library at Hartzell High School, a United Methodist school at Old Mutare Mission in Mutare, Zimbabwe. A 2019 fire burned many of the school’s textbooks, creating challenges for students and staff. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.

Church school's library restocked after fire

Alumni of United Methodist Hartzell High School in Zimbabwe have been raising money to replace some of the 40,000 books lost in a 2019 fire.
Social Concerns
Protesters at the Ahmadu Bello Way in Jos, Nigeria, hold candles and chant liberation songs on Oct. 20. At least 56 people have died since the protests against police brutality began on Oct. 8, according to Amnesty International. Photo by the Rev. Christopher Thomas

Bishop calls for dialogue on police reform in Nigeria

As protests turn deadly, Nigeria Area Bishop John Wesley Yohanna urges the government to address demonstrations peacefully. Several United Methodist pastors say they witnessed the violence.